FUNNY how I miss things. Even though I have considered myself more diligent than ever in tracking down remnants of NYC’s past as an infrastructural archeologist, It’ surprising how much material slips past my notice. Last year I took an in-depth look at Celtic Avenue, a one-block road in Sunnyside, Queens, a last remnant of a much longer route that predated the neighborhood’s street grid as built in the early 1900s.
Forgotten Fan George Burles didn’t miss what I did, though, and duly sent me a couple photos of his find at #50-29 Celtic Avenue just where it meets 43rd Street.
See it there, right at the roofline? “L.I. Casket & Box Co.” No doubt the paint at the roofline wore down and became transparent enough to show it. This building was once the home of a casketmaking empire. It was propitiously located too, as Calvary Cemetery is a block or so away.
In 1940, 50-29 Celtic gave no indication of being part of a casket empire but it did have a porch which it has since lost. Note Celtic Avenue wasn’t paved at the time.
Update: Historian Joseph Ditta points out that the company was founded in 1923 by Louis Chianella and is still in business, as Island Casket, located in West Babylon.
Ad in Brooklyn Citizen, August 31, 1921 when this was #71 Celtic Avenue. Thus the firm may have been founded earlier than 1923.
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